TIME

7 Dead as Battle Erupts in Somali Capital

(MOGADISHU, Somalia) — Combat shook Mogadishu early Friday as government troops launched a dawn attack on a house belonging to a former warlord as part of a disarmament campaign. Seven people died in the violence.

Explosions and gunfire were heard as troops battled militiamen loyal to the former warlord.

The African Union military force in Somalia, AMISOM, said the raid was carried out near the home of a former district commissioner, Ahmed Daci. The AU said that Daci’s militia fired at AMISOM, precipitating a firefight.

“During the operation, the militia was overpowered and 20 were arrested, 15 guns and an assortment of ammunition recovered,” AMISOM said on its Twitter feed.

In bloody scenes that recalled the days of daily warfare in this seaside city, wounded Somalis were carted off the hospitals and onlookers helped carry or push the casualties.

The dead included four civilians, two militia members and one soldier, said police officer Capt. Mohammed Hussein. Eight people were wounded, he said.

Launched last week, the Somali government’s disarmament campaign is an attempt to reduce the number of weapons in the violence-prone city. The government says some 500 guns were recovered during the first four operations. Friday’s operation was the fifth.

The target of the government’s disarmament campaign is the feared and powerful clan warlords. The government says the raids are taking place to ensure that the city’s arms don’t fall in the hands of al-Shabab militants.

However, some opposition politicians believe that the weapons drive is an attempt to silence or neutralize opponents of the government. A national election is scheduled for 2016 if the security situation permits.

“We are ready to lay down weapons for the pacification of Mogadishu, but this kind of tactic will not work,” said Abdullahi Sheikh Hassan, a Somali politician whose home was also raided Friday.

Fatima Ali, a Mogadishu mother of four, said Friday’s battle sent everyone in her house to the ground for safety.

“We are very terrified,” she said. “We haven’t heard something like this for some time.”

A proposed disarmament law has been approved by the government’s cabinet but hasn’t yet been voted on by parliament.

TIME

Police Reveal Name of Missouri Cop Who Shot Teen

Police Chief Jackson speaks during a news conference in Ferguson, Missouri
Police Chief Thomas Jackson speaks during a news conference at the police headquarters in Ferguson, Mo. on Aug. 13, 2014. Mario Anzuoni—Reuters

(FERGUSON, Mo.) — The police chief in the St. Louis suburb where an officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager identified the officer on Friday as Darren Wilson.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made the announcement after initially declining to the release the name, saying the officer had received numerous death threats. The officer has been on administrative leave since the shooting Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters.

But on Thursday, county police in riot gear and armored tanks gave way to state troopers walking side-by-side with thousands of peaceful protesters. The dramatic shift came after Gov. Jay Nixon assigned oversight of the protests to the state Highway Patrol, stripping that authority from the St. Louis County Police Department.

“All they did was look at us and shoot tear gas,” Pedro Smith, who has participated in the nightly protests, said Thursday. “This is totally different. Now we’re being treated with respect.”

The more tolerant response came as President Barack Obama spoke publicly for the first time about Saturday’s fatal shooting — and the subsequent violence that shocked the nation and threatened to tear apart Ferguson, a town of 21,000 that is nearly 70 percent black and patrolled by a nearly all-white police force.

Obama said there was “no excuse” for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.

Tensions boiled over after a candlelight vigil Sunday night, as looters smashed and burned businesses in the neighborhood, where police have repeatedly fired tear gas and smoke bombs.

Police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car before the struggle spilled onto the street, where Brown was shot multiple times, according to police.

But a much different story has been told by Dorian Johnson, who says he was walking down the street with Brown when he was shot. He has said the officer ordered them out of the street, then grabbed his friend’s neck and tried to pull him into the car before brandishing his weapon and firing. He says Brown started to run and the officer pursued him, firing multiple times.

Nixon’s promise to ease the deep racial tensions was swiftly put to the test as demonstrators gathered again Thursday evening. But the latest protests had a light, almost jubilant atmosphere among the racially mixed crowd, more akin to a parade or block party.

The streets were filled with music, free food and even laughter. When darkness fell — the point at which previous protests have grown tense — no uniformed officers were in sight outside the burned-out QuikTrip convenience store that had become a flashpoint for standoffs between police and protesters.

“You can feel it. You can see it,” protester Cleo Willis said of the change. “Now it’s up to us to ride that feeling.”

Nixon appointed Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who is black, to lead the police effort. Johnson, who grew up near Ferguson and commands a region that includes St. Louis County, marched alongside protesters Thursday, joined by other high-ranking brass from the Highway Patrol as well as the county department. The marchers also had a police escort.

“We’re here to serve and protect,” Johnson said. “We’re not here to instill fear.”

Residents in Ferguson have complained about the police response that began soon after Brown’s shooting with the use of dogs for crowd control — a tactic that for some evoked civil-rights protests from a half-century ago. The county police had taken over the investigation of Brown’s shooting and security at the request of Ferguson.

Nixon vowed that “Ferguson will not be defined as a community that was torn apart by violence but will be known as a community that pulled together to overcome it.” The governor was joined at a news conference by the white mayor of St. Louis and the region’s four state representatives and the county executive, all of whom are black.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal investigators have interviewed witnesses to the shooting.

___

Associated Press writers Jim Salter and Jim Suhr in St. Louis, Eric Tucker in Washington and Hillel Italie in New York, and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner, also in New York, contributed to this report.

TIME

Thousands Heading to Opposition Rally in Pakistan

(ISLAMABAD) — Thousands of Pakistani opposition supporters were on the road for a second day Friday, heading in two separate convoys to the capital, Islamabad, for a massive rally meant to pressure the country’s prime minister to resign over allegations of rigging last year’s parliamentary elections.

The convoys, which started out on Thursday morning from the city of Lahore, were in response to calls by two very different opposition figures: Imran Khan, the famous cricketer-turned-politician, and firebrand cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri who commands a strong following through his network of mosques and religious schools in Pakistan.

Both have challenged the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who came to power in 2013 in the first democratic transfer of power in a country which has seen three coups since gaining independence in 1947.

They demand new elections under the supervision of a neutral government, but Sharif’s aides say the demand is unconstitutional. Khan also wants a new election commission chief appointed before the vote is held, while Qadri says electoral reforms are necessary.

The opposition march comes at a time when Pakistan’s military is fighting militants in the troubled North Waziristan tribal region, which has been a base for militants accused of launching attacks in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. The military has killed over 500 militants there since launching the June 15 operation.

The government has criticized Khan and Qadri, saying the country needs unity — not turmoil and dissent — at a time when the armed forces are fighting militants who have killed thousands of people in recent years. Authorities have also said there have been intelligence reports about possible attacks on the convoys or the opposition rally, which is expected to start Friday evening in Islamabad.

After 20 hours on the road, the slow-moving convoys had covered about half of the distance of 300 kilometers (187 miles) toward the capital.

“Listen, Nawaz Sharif, I am coming to Islamabad to seek your resignation,” a boisterous Khan told followers from atop his truck as it passed through the city of Gujranwala, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) away from Islamabad.

In Gujranwala, dozens of Sharif supporters pelted Khan’s truck with shoes and stones but he was unharmed, his aides said. Pakistani TV showed supporters and Khan and Sharif throwing stones at each other in the city.

Earlier, Khan said he was hoping to lead a march of one million people in the Pakistani capital later in the day. Qadri also said he expected one million people to join him in Islamabad, a city of 1.7 million residents according to a 2012 census.

Ahead of the rally, thousands of riot police and special units were deployed across Islamabad. Authorities also blocked many roads in the capital with shipping containers.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Thursday apologized for the city’s paralysis, insisting the measures were for the residents’ own safety and warning the demonstrators they would be dealt with “an iron hand” if they try to disrupt law and order.

Sharif criticized his opponents for pursuing “negative politics” and promised to safeguard democratic institutions.

Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country of 180 million people, has largely been ruled by military dictators since it was carved out of India in 1947.

Sharif has also been the victim of a military coup. His elected government was ousted in 1999 by then army chief Pervez Musharraf.

The army still wields much influence over life in Pakistan, which has seen frequent attacks by militants and insurgents of various backgrounds and agendas.

Late Thursday, attackers tried to storm two air bases in the southwestern city of Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, sparking a gunbattle that killed 10 militants, the police said.

Police chief Muhammad Amlish said seven security personnel were also wounded in the attack. He said the attackers used guns and grenades as they tried to enter the Smungli and Khalid military bases on a sprawling complex next to the city’s airport. Initial police reports had said only two attackers were involved.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack but nationalists groups have for years waged a low-insurgency in Baluchistan to pressure the government for a fairer share of local resources.

___

Associated Press Writer Abdul Sattar from Quetta contributed to this report.

TIME Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki Steps Down, Gives Up Post to Rival

Embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki caved to international pressure and gave up his post to Haider al-Abadi

(BAGHDAD) — Iraq’s embattled Nouri al-Maliki has stepped down as prime minister, caving in to international and domestic pressure to give up his post to a rival politician.

The move defuses a political deadlock that has plunged Iraq into uncertainty and opens way for the formation of a new government that could take on a growing insurgency by Sunni militants that has engulfed much of the country.

Al-Maliki made the announcement on national television late Thursday, standing alongside senior members of his Islamic Dawa Party, including rival Haider al-Abadi. He said he was stepping aside in favor of his “brother,” in order to “facilitate the political process and government formation.”

The premier-designate al-Abadi, a veteran Shiite lawmaker, now faces the immense challenge of trying to unite Iraqi politicians. The country’s major political factions deeply distrust each other and the army seems unable to regain territory in the north and west taken by militants from the Islamic State group.

Al-Maliki had been struggling for weeks to stay on for a third four-year term as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolizing power and pursuing a fiercely pro-Shiite agenda that has alienated the Sunni minority.

The United States, the U.N. and a broad array of political factions in Iraq had backed al-Abadi, saying only a new leader could unify a country under siege from the Islamic State extremists who have captured large swaths of Iraqi territory.

Al-Maliki said his decision reflected a desire to “safeguard the high interests of the country,” adding that he would not be the cause of any bloodshed.

His refusal to give up the post after eight years in power had provoked a political crisis that escalated this week in Baghdad. The pressure intensified when his Shiite political alliance backed al-Abadi to replace him, and President Fouad Massoum nominated al-Abadi on Monday to form the next government. Al-Maliki threatened legal action against the president for what he said was a violation of the constitution.

But in a meeting of his party earlier Thursday, al-Maliki agreed to endorse al-Abadi, two senior lawmakers from his State of Law parliamentary bloc — Hussein al-Maliki and Khalaf Abdul-Samad — told The Associated Press. The two said al-Maliki also agreed to drop a suit before the constitutional court challenging al-Abadi’s nomination.

The White House commended al-Maliki’s move and expressed hope that the power shift “can set Iraq on a new path and unite its people” against the threat from Islamic militants, national security adviser Susan Rice said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the move “sets the stage for a historic and peaceful transition of power in Iraq.”

Al-Maliki had grown increasingly isolated as he was deserted not only by his Shiite allies but also top ally Iran, the United States and the U.N. backed al-Abadi, who has 30 days to put together a Cabinet for parliament’s approval.

The U.N. Security Council urged al-Abadi to work swiftly to form “an inclusive government that represents all segments of the Iraqi population and that contributes to finding a viable and sustainable solution to the country’s current challenges.”

Iraqis of all sects welcomed Thursday’s announcement.

“Now, all we want is a government that respects the people and does not discriminate against them,” said Youssef Ibrahim, 40, a Sunni government employee in Baghdad.

Adnan Hussein, 45, a Shiite in Sadr City, said he believes al-Maliki is to blame for much of Iraq’s troubles. “The years he ruled were the worst in Iraq’s history and he bears that responsibility,” Hussein said.

The U.S. and other countries have been pushing for a more representative government that will ease anger among Sunnis, who felt marginalized by al-Maliki’s administration, which helped fuel the dramatic sweep by the Islamic State extremist group.

The militants’ lightning advance across much of northern and western Iraq since June has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, and last week prompted the U.S. to launch aid operations and airstrikes as the militants threatened religious minorities and the largely autonomous Kurdish region.

The U.N. on Wednesday declared the situation in Iraq a “Level 3 Emergency” — a decision that came after some 45,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority were able to escape from a remote desert mountaintop where they had been encircled by Islamic State fighters, who view them as apostates and had vowed to kill any who did not convert to Islam.

The U.N. said it would provide increased support to the Yazidis and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk. A total of 1.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting.

The United States has been carrying out airstrikes in recent days against Islamic State fighters, helping fend back their advance on Kurdish regions.

The European Union’s foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting Friday on Iraq to coordinate their stance on military support for the Kurds and on providing humanitarian assistance for those fleeing the fighting.

___

Abdul-Zahra reported from Boston. Associated Press writers Vivian Salama, Sinan Salaheddin and Murtada Faraj in Baghdad, Elaine Ganley in Paris, and Robert Burns and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

TIME South Korea

Pope Makes Tough Sell on Materialism in South Korea

Pope Francis
Pope Francis shakes hands with a nun as he arrives to attend a meeting with the bishops of Korea at the headquarters of the Korean Episcopal Conference in Seoul on Aug. 14, 2014 AP

Francis received a boisterous welcome on Friday from tens of thousands of young Asians

(DAEJEON, South Korea) — Pope Francis has urged Asia’s Catholic youth to renounce the materialism that afflicts much of Asian society today and reject “inhuman” economic systems that disenfranchise the poor, pressing his economic agenda in one of Asia’s powerhouses where financial gain is a key barometer of success.

Francis received a boisterous welcome Friday from tens of thousands of young Asians as he celebrated his first public Mass in South Korea, whose small but growing church is seen as a model for the rest of the world.

In his homily, Francis urged the young people to be a force of renewal: “May they combat the allure of a materialism that stifles authentic spiritual and cultural values and the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife.”

TIME Missouri

Protesters Gather Peacefully in Ferguson

A protester shouts as she moved down W. Florissant Avenue away from the line of riot police in Ferguson on August 13, 2014.
A protester shouts as she moved down W. Florissant Avenue away from the line of riot police in Ferguson on August 13, 2014. J.B. Forbes—St Louis Post-Dispatch/Polaris

A steady line of cars driving by the scene is honking and waving at the protesters

(FERGUSON, Mo.) — A huge crowd of people protesting the death of a black Missouri teenager shot by a white police officer have gathered in Ferguson, chanting and carrying signs.

The protests come as the Missouri State Highway Patrol is taking over supervising security in the St. Louis suburb amid criticisms of the police response.

Several people stopped to shake hands with police and troopers. Some have stopped to hug and chat with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol, who is overseeing security.

The scene stands in stark contrast clashes earlier this week when officers wore riot gear. Crowds have gathered since Saturday’s shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The mood Thursday is almost jubilant. A steady line of cars driving by the scene is honking and waving at the protesters.

TIME Texas

First National Guard Troops at Texas-Mexico Border

Governor Rick Perry pauses as he addresses attendees at the 2014 Red State Gathering on August 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Governor Rick Perry pauses as he addresses attendees at the 2014 Red State Gathering on August 8, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. Tony Gutierrez—AP

(HIDALGO, Texas) — The first wave of National Guard troops has taken up observation posts along the Texas-Mexico border.

Several dozen soldiers deployed in the Rio Grande Valley are part of the up to 1,000 troops called up by Gov. Rick Perry last month, Texas National Guard Master Sgt. Ken Walker of the Joint Counterdrug Task Force said Thursday.

Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge.

This first batch of soldiers was specifically trained to man such observation towers in the area belonging to local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Walker said. They will serve as extra eyes on the border and report suspicious activity to authorities.

State officials have estimated the deployment will cost $12 million per month. Perry said the soldiers were necessary to help secure the border while the Border Patrol was busy with a surge in illegal immigration.

From October to July, 63,000 unaccompanied children were arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, double the number from the same period a year earlier. Another 63,000 families — mothers or fathers with young children — were arrested during that period.

“They’re just there for support,” Walker said of the soldiers. “We’re just trying to give some relief to the guys at Customs and Border Protection” and other law enforcement agencies.

The guardsmen seen Thursday were manning a tower owned by the Hidalgo Police Department.

Hidalgo Police Chief Rodolfo Espinoza said he would normally not have his department’s two towers manned. They have cameras that can pan the area and record activity, but having a person that can recognize something suspicious and report it is more valuable, he said.

“It is good to have them,” Espinoza said of the soldiers. “It is a positive benefit for everybody.”

TIME Auto Racing

Stewart Sitting Out Michigan After Dirt-Car Death

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Tony Stewart says he will not race Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, skipping a second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup race since striking and killing a driver in a dirt-track race at a small New York track.

Stewart announced the decision Thursday. His plans for the rest of the season have not been determined.

Jeff Burton will drive Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet in Michigan.

Stewart also sat out Sunday at Watkins Glen, a day after he struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a sprint car event in Canandaigua, New York. After Stewart clipped Ward’s car, sending it spinning, Ward got out of the car during the caution period, walked down the track and was hit by Stewart.

Ward’s funeral was Thursday in Boonville, New York.

Stewart’s dirt-racing career is on hold, and he could face criminal charges.

TIME Iraq

Iraqi State TV: Nouri al-Maliki Has Given Up Prime Minister Post

(BAGHDAD) — Iraqi state TV: Nouri al-Maliki has given up the post of prime minister to Haider al-Abadi.

TIME

Officials: Iraq’s al-Maliki to Back New P.M.

(BAGHDAD) — Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to step aside and support his nominated replacement in the post, Shiite lawmakers told The Associated Press on Thursday. If al-Maliki follows through, the move would end a political deadlock that plunged Baghdad into uncertainty as the country fights a Sunni militant insurgency.

The government announced that al-Maliki would deliver a nationally televised address Thursday evening, without elaborating.

Al-Maliki has been struggling for weeks to stay for a third four-year term as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out, accusing him of monopolizing power and pursuing a fiercely pro-Shiite agenda that has alienated the Sunni minority.

The pressure intensified this week when his Shiite political alliance backed another member of his party, Haider al-Abadi, to replace him, and President Fouad Massoum nominated al-Abadi to form the next government. Al-Maliki for days has refused to step aside, saying the nomination violates the constitution.

But in a meeting of his Dawa party on Thursday evening, al-Maliki agreed to endorse al-Abadi as the next prime minister, two senior lawmakers from his State of Law parliamentary bloc — Hussein al-Maliki and Khalaf Abdul-Samad — told the AP. They and two other Shiite lawmakers said al-Maliki would announce his endorse in his speech Thursday night. The two other lawmakers spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door meeting.

The lawmakers said al-Maliki also agreed to drop a suit before the constitutional court challenging al-Abadi’s nomination.

Al-Maliki had grown increasingly isolated as not only erstwhile Shiite allies but also top ally Iran, the United States and the U.N. backed al-Abadi, who has 30-days to put together a Cabinet for parliament’s approval.

The U.N. Security Council urged al-Abadi to work swiftly to form “an inclusive government that represents all segments of the Iraqi population and that contributes to finding a viable and sustainable solution to the country’s current challenges.”

The U.S. and other countries have been pushing for an inclusive government that will ease anger among Sunnis, who felt marginalized by al-Maliki’s administration, helping fuel the dramatic sweep by the Islamic State extremist group over much of northern and western Iraq since June.

The extremist Islamic State group’s lightning advance across much of northern and western Iraq has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since June, and last week prompted the U.S. to launch aid operations and airstrikes as the militants threatened religious minorities and the largely autonomous Kurdish region.

The U.N. on Wednesday declared the situation in Iraq a “Level 3 Emergency” — a development that will allow for additional assets to respond to the needs of the displaced, said U.N. special representative Nickolay Mladenov, pointing to the “scale and complexity of the current humanitarian catastrophe.”

The U.N. move came after some 45,000 people, members of the Yazidi religious minority, were able to escape from a remote desert mountaintop where they had been encircled by Islamic State fighters, who view them as apostates and had vowed to kill any who did not convert to Islam.

They were able to reach safety after Kurdish fighters from neighboring Syria opened an exit corridor. U.S. and Iraqi forces had earlier airlifted aid to those trapped.

U.S. officials said Thursday that roughly 4,500 people remain on Sinjar Mountain, nearly half of whom are herders who lived there before the siege and have no desire to leave. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The U.N. said it would provide increased support to the Yazidis and to 400,000 other Iraqis who have fled since June to the Kurdish province of Dahuk. A total of 1.5 million people have been displaced by the fighting.

The United States has been carrying out airstrikes in recent days against Islamic State fighters, helping fend back their advance on Kurdish regions.

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday confirmed the “imminent delivery of military equipment” to Kurdish forces in a phone call with the new Iraqi president, Fouad Massoum, Hollande’s office said. It did not specify the type or amount of equipment.

The statement said Paris would also provide more humanitarian aid. France has sent dozens of tons of aid in several deliveries this week.

In western Iraq, fighting erupted early Thursday in the militant-held city of Fallujah, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad. The clashes on the city’s northern outskirts killed four children, along with a woman and at least 10 militants, said Fallujah hospital director Ahmed Shami.

He had no further details on the clashes, beyond saying that four other children and another woman were wounded in the violence.

It was difficult to gauge the situation in Fallujah, which has been in the hands of the Islamic State and allied militants since early January, when the insurgents seized much of the western Anbar province along with parts of the provincial capital Ramadi.

Meanwhile, eight civilians were killed in separate attacks across Baghdad on Thursday.

A bomb attached to a minibus in the central Sheik Omar area killed four commuters and wounded 11 others, a police officer said. Another bomb went off in a commercial area in the southeastern Bayaa neighborhood, killing two and wounding nine, another police officer said.

Two other civilians were killed and 11 wounded when two mortar rounds struck another residential area, he said.

Three medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to brief media.

___

Associated Press writers Murtada Faraj in Baghdad, Elaine Ganley in Paris, and Robert Burns and Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

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